Sometimes the constant flood of information and the “always on” mentality can become overwhelming. With the rapid new developments in smartphone, notebook and tablet technologies, people have the ability to continuously send and receive information at the touch of a button or swipe of a finger. As a result, the trend of vacations from digital technology has emerged.Digital technologies are central to every facet of modern Western life. According to research from Pew, currently 88 percent of American adults have a cell phone, 57 percent have a laptop, 19 percent own an e-book reader, and 19 percent have a tablet computer; about six in 10 adults (63 percent) go online wirelessly with one of those devices.
We aren’t simply using these devices, but they have become integral to our lives. As noted, in gyro’s “@Work State of Mind” report: “[business] executives resemble 24/7 news networks—constantly receiving, processing and sending information.” In addition, 2 percent of business decision-makers never work on weekends or nights, and 52 percent receive business information around the clock, including weekends. This mentality has permeated our broader culture:
- 50 percent of Americans prefer to communicate digitally rather than in person (Pew)
- 81 person browse the Internet, 77 percent use search, 68 percent use an app, and 48 percent watch videos on their smartphone (Google)
- 72 percent use their smartphones while consuming other media, and one-third are on their smartphones while watching TV (Google)
- 93 percent of smartphone owners use their smartphones while at home (Google)
Interestingly, people are now even using technology to take breaks from technology itself. One app called Freedom can be downloaded and set to block Internet access on a Mac or PC for up to eight hours to allow users time for offline productivity. Digital Detox is a free app for Android smartphones that was inspired by Adbuster’s Digital Detox week and irrevocably disables a user’s phone for a user-specified period of time.
Disconnecting from technology has not stopped there. The trend has manifested itself as a sales tool in the travel industry with the creation of digital-detox vacation packages:
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines is asking travelers to leave their technology at home as part of their digital-detox vacation package. Included in the package is a pre-mailed guidebook explaining how to function on a trip without technology and features an onsite life coach who provides advice on how not to let technology control one’s life.
- The “Be Unplugged” option at the Quincy Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., provides guests the ability to surrender their laptops, tablets and smartphones at check-in. The staff then locks away these items during the guest’s stay. At the end of the stay, the gadgets are retrieved with a special code.
A break from digital communications (whether for hours or days) can refresh us, enabling us to become more productive in human relations and work. This break clears our life from noise and allows us the space to reconnect with ourselves, relax and return to the digital world recharged.